These are the voyagers of the trimaran Starship.
It's mission ... to explore new worlds.
The journey account was originally serialised in an International sailing magazine where it gathered a dedicated following of readers.
The author singlehandedly builds a 35ft x 22ft cruiser in his garden of the same size. The boat goes on a four year journey to circumnavigate Britain including the Hebrides, Orkney, Fair Isle and Muckle Flugga in Shetland. The varied crew of friends and acquaintances are ordinary sailors experiencing an extraordinary journey of adventure and exploration.
The story describes the wonderful locations, the varied wildlife as well as the challenge of surviving Force 10 in the open Atlantic and navigating rock strewn passages in thick fog without modern electronic navigation aids.
This true story is about the trials and tribulations of sailing, the setbacks and the rewards, successes and failures. Above all it is about learning how to coastal cruise from direct experience. There is innovation in evidence, there are surprises in store, there is enjoyment aplenty, so why not join the journey ... for this is real sailing as you may not have read about before.
Coastal cruising is probably the most severe test in sailing due to the dangerous proximity of the land, entering and leaving the many different ports, calculating and overcoming the restrictions resulting from the tidal streams and the constant threat imposed by other seaborne traffic.
The British Isles has an endless range of situations, circumstances, weather variations, sea states, sights and scenes, history, geography, people and places to be experienced by sailing. It offers wonderful adventures that were beyond our imaginations at the outset. We learned this as we went along and only came to appreciate it slowly. This was and is, the ultimate way to learn to cruise.
What do readers say?
I was transported away ... Compulsive reading. I have had to ration myself.
You have such a lovely mixture of geography, history and practical sailing.
I did enjoy reading about it, but I'd have been terrified.
It is a really great yarn. I travelled with you ...
I felt almost every wave and blast of rain with you.
I am utterly fascinated by your book, quite the best read I have had for a long time, I delayed bed last evening to finish " The Storm".
It's a real page turner.
I like your writing style, it is engaging.
I'm glad I gave up sailing!
I am immensely grateful that I was not a member of your crew on any occasion!
I do hope that the book receives rave reviews, which you deserve.
Finding the time
'Round Britain Slowly' would be my cruising dream.
The only snag with Utopian cruising concepts is TIME. Unfortunately I had to earn my keep and my family's too, just like any other working wage slave and at this hurdle I almost fell. How could I ever find the finance or the time required? If I was to visit the locations on my list it could take years, but they would be years of new and challenging sailing. I was going to be the weekend sailor whose wake-track didn't turn back. I was going to remain a weekend sailor still burdened with the responsibilities of western civilisation: not 'dropping out', not leaving it all behind, but rushing back to work on Monday mornings as usual.
The Great Ally
I had one great ally in my search for assistance and that was the boat. In almost every case, nobody had seen anything like her and she was very difficult to ignore. We stepped ashore as Martians descending from a smoking, shining saucer and public curiosity in our craft broke down the first barriers of reserve.
I reluctantly had to recognise that I've become a certain type of sailor who rushes off at the weekend to join a traffic jam afloat, along with all the other characters who are also out to 'get away from it all'. We never do really. We actually go to look at each other's boats and compare them with our own. I discovered that we certainly don't seek the totally deserted anchorage, because if we should accidently find it, the eerie solitude might turn out to be more than we've bargained for.
I removed a cover on top of the engine to see the shattered remains of a spring under the valve ending. Oh, Woe is me! I was looking at a big bill, a long delay, I had to be in Scotland in a matter of days and the tide was beginning to turn against me. Time to wallow in self-pity; to rage against fate. Time for self-recrimination, anger and anguish, but the old questions of Why Me? Why here? Why NOW? suddenly snapped me back into the real world.
The boat was behaving magnificently and we were coming through, but I knew that the failure of even the smallest vital component in the rig or rudder would put us in desperate trouble. I looked around the boat at my crew mates. The helmsman pale with fatigue, the others weak from sickness, myself shivering with cold. I knew that we were balancing on the edge of a precipice and the slightest wobble might send us tumbling over the edge.
I sailed gently across a smooth sea, seemingly alone on my boat with not another craft in sight. The breeze carried the smell of grass, animals, and newly cut hay across the water from the land. My distance off was such that no human occupant could be seen, but buildings, fields, lanes and tracks could be individually picked out as the clear sun came lower in the sky behind me. For almost an hour I was able to savour this model landscape, tracing its roads, admiring its beauty and neatness, drifting in its aroma.